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i could be lonely with you

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I like that you're broken, broken like me
Maybe that makes me a fool
I like that you're lonely, lonely like me
I could be lonely with you

The door to Olivia’s apartment falls shut with a soft click, and she exhales as she locks it behind her, sliding the deadbolt into place. Noah’s already slipped out of his shoes by the time she takes off her boots, and Olivia shakes her head as she lines up his sneakers on the shoe rack and straightens out his coat where it hangs in the hall closet.

Boys, she thinks, as a wry smile spreads across her face. Always messy.

He’s scampered off to his room by the time she makes her way to the kitchen, dropping her work bag on one of the stools by the counter. It’s five-fifteen, which is early for her standards, but they’d had a rare day with no new cases and she’d been able to duck out of the one-six and pick up Noah from dance. 

Olivia pours herself a glass of water and then surveys her fridge; she’s got some sauce and meatballs left over from one of Carisi’s mom’s monthly drop-offs at the precinct, and a head of broccoli that she thinks she can convince Noah to eat alongside his spaghetti. 

She grabs the box of pasta from the cabinet and puts a pot of water on the stove, setting it to boil before she heads to her bedroom to change out of her slacks and blouse and into something more comfortable. Olivia washes the makeup off her face, puts her hair up into a bun and slips into a pair of leggings and a soft sweater, adding some fuzzy socks for good measure. 

“Noah, dinner in twenty minutes!” she calls down the hallway, and rolls her eyes when all she gets in response is a muffled, “Okay.” 

Her sweet boy is growing up, headed straight for his preeteen years, and Olivia sometimes can’t believe how quickly time has flown by. 

She gets back to the kitchen and dumps the pasta into the boiling water, puts the sauce and meatballs into a bowl to microwave, and starts cutting the broccoli into smaller pieces. 

For someone who used to subsist largely off of takeout and freezer meals, Olivia finds herself surprised, still, by how much she cooks now. She’s never going to be a chef, but she’s got the staples under her belt, and Lucy is a godsend who batch-cooks for her and Noah when she watches him on weeknights. 

It’s something she’d all-but given up on until Noah — her miracle of a son, who she can’t imagine ever being without — came into her life: motherhood, and everything that comes with it. She thinks back to Calvin, sometimes, to that sweet little boy whose crayon drawing is still sitting in a box in her hall closet and whose Christmas cards get stuck up on her fridge every year. 

She’d spent so long thinking it would never happen, that being a mom would never be in the cards for her, but now she’s got a precocious ten-year-old down the hall who amazes her every day. It washes over her like a wave, sometimes, just how lucky she is. 

The pasta and sauce are ready by the time Noah emerges from his room, chattering about something that happened at school that afternoon. A boy in his grade had tried to prank the science teacher and failed miserably, from what Olivia has gathered, and she sits down at the table with a smile on her face, watching her son wolf down his pasta and regale her with tales from the fifth grade. 

“And then Holly said she saw Mrs. Meyer tell another teacher that she saw Jimmy sneaking into her classroom at lunch, and he was gonna get sent to the office about it,” Noah says around a forkful of meatballs, eyes wide. “Which is bad because Jimmy already got sent to the office twice this week for talking in math class and they’ll call his parents if he gets in trouble again.”

“Twice, huh?”

“Yeah, he talks all the time and it’s super annoying when we’re trying to focus.”

“I bet.” 

“Especially because we’re doing fractions, and they’re hard.” Noah groans, leaning back in his chair with an exaggerated sigh, and Olivia stifles a chuckle. 

“Tell you what,” she offers. “Finish your dinner, clear your plate and I’ll help you with the fractions, okay?”

Noah nods, and pretty soon their plates are stacked in the dishwasher and they’re poring over his fractions worksheet. Olivia stifles her own groan as she realizes just how long it’s been since she’s had to do this particular kind of math — and how it feels like all of the directions are entirely foreign to her. God, she’s getting old.

“Mo-om,” Noah whines. “That doesn’t make any sense at all.”

“Why don’t you walk me through what your teacher told you, and we’ll try it again?”

It takes another half hour but they make their way through the worksheet, and Olivia sends up a silent thank you to the universe that she’s got Google on her side to help when the going gets particularly tough. But Noah is persistent, and they high-five when they finish the last problem and he slips the papers into his backpack, zipping it shut. 

His bedtime isn’t for another forty-five minutes, so Olivia lets him play on his Switch for a while, and spends the time wiping down the kitchen counters and starting the dishwasher. She brings a bag of trash out to the hallway chute and straightens out the pillows on her couch, and then makes sure Noah has a sandwich to take to school the next morning. 

She grabs the hampers out of his room and her own, and starts a load of laundry, sorting out all the whites. It’s oddly comforting, she can’t help but think, to have a routine like this, a set list of tasks to get through that don’t require her full brainpower, that aren’t life-or-death situations. 

It’s calming in a way she never expected, and she thinks if she were to tell her thirty-year-old self that she’s finding calm in sorting through her kid’s dance gear… she’d probably look at her current self like she’d grown three heads.

Olivia chuckles, shakes her head and presses start on the machine, checking the time before she heads to Noah’s room and tells him he needs to start getting ready for bed. 

The older he gets, the more he tries to make bedtime a negotiation, but luckily he had a full day of school and an extra dance lesson for the advanced group today, so he doesn’t protest too much, just pads into the bathroom on socked feet to take a shower and brush his teeth. 

“Goodnight, sweet boy,” she tells him when she closes the door to his room, smiling at the “G’night, mom” that he muffles into his pillow.

Olivia exhales when she gets back to the kitchen, bracing her hands against the countertop. It’s nine-fifteen and she’s got nothing to do; her laundry won’t be done for another hour and otherwise, there are no fires requiring her immediate attention at the precinct or elsewhere. 

The apartment is quiet, save for the gentle sounds of the washing machine, and she finds herself reaching for the bottle of red that sits uncorked on her kitchen counter, along with a glass. For the most part, she’s stopped drinking on weeknights, ever since she found herself going for a bottle of wine more and more a few years ago. But sometimes she indulges in a glass and a bit of dark chocolate, paired with some cheesy show on Netflix that she wouldn’t ever admit to watching in the harsh light of day. 

Tonight, she settles down on her couch with a glass of cab and scrolls through her Netflix queue: cooking shows, and that new period drama everyone’s raving about that she’s been meaning to start. She absentmindedly flicks through her choices, but nothing particularly catches her interest, and she eventually lets the remote drop onto the couch cushion beside her, forgotten as she leans back with a sigh. 

Most days, she’s so busy with work and Noah and making sure the apartment is clean that she has little time to sit and relax and get lost in her thoughts. But tonight they wander, running away with her as she stares at her television and watches the automatic screensaver that’s started to play — colourful pictures of oceans and deserts and wildlife that glide slowly across the screen. 

It crashes in on her sometimes, starting in the pit of her stomach and spreading out through her limbs, all the way to the tips of her fingers and toes. It’s a heaviness, a feeling she can only describe as loneliness, even though it should be absurd, she thinks, because she’s anything but alone. 

She’s got Noah and her squad and old friends like Cragen and Munch and Nick, who still check in every once in a while. Amanda, Carisi and the girls are like family, and Fin’s been a brother to her for as long as she can remember. She’s surrounded herself with people, with a little family she built herself from scratch, all on her own.

And it’s enough, most days. 

But some days, she realizes just how much they don’t know about her, just how much of herself she doesn’t share. Olivia has never been a particularly open person, and most people who really know her have learned her story by being there over the years, by showing up. People like Fin, who’s had her back for two decades now, constant and steadfast.

The two of them will always go to bat for one another, no questions asked. It’s something she knows she can count on: Fin having her six, no matter what. It’s a comfort, and she’s grateful for him every day, but Fin’s not the type for long talks. 

He’s straightforward and matter-of-fact and always in her corner, but they don’t spend late nights talking over takeout and beers. She used to do that with Rafa, before… well. Olivia shakes her head and takes another sip of her wine, watches the red liquid swirl around in her glass. 

Even Rafa had only ever known part of her, just like Amanda and Nick. They met her when she was grieving, coping with a loss she’d never been able to foresee. They’ve only known the Olivia who worked hard to put her walls back up after they’d so carefully been torn down. 

And Carisi, Kat, and Velasco? She’s always been their boss, first and foremost. Their mentor. Someone to look up to, to confide in. Not someone who would ever confide in them.

Brian and Ed, they scratched the surface. Knew her from before, and waited patiently for her to let them in a little further, to take down a few of the bricks from the walls she’d built, and let them see her heart. But she knew they’d never quite succeeded; she hadn’t let them. 

Only one person ever accomplished that particular feat — seeing every facet of her soul and understanding her better than she did herself some days. But he left, and she thinks it might’ve broken something fundamental inside of her, something she’s never been able to fully repair. 

It still hits her like a lightning bolt, every once in a while, that Elliot is back in the city, has been for almost a year now. That they’re trying to rebuild their friendship, that she’s trying to let him back in. But it’s scary, opening herself up again. Allowing someone to see her again, especially when she knows what happened the last time he got close. 

Besides, Elliot’s undercover with the Brotherhood now, moonlighting as a version of himself that he worked his whole life not to become. He’s checking in with her, because they’re working on their friendship, but it’s sporadic. 

Texts and calls when he’s home, or when he can spare a few minutes. Meetings are rare, since he’s supposed to be sick of her, supposed to be the black knight to her white one. It’s silly, but she finds that despite everything, she misses him. Misses how he’s trying, fumbling a little along the way, but listening to her concerns and asking questions. 

No longer making excuses, but owning up to his actions, and working to be a part of her life again, to be a good father and son and friend.  

She hasn’t heard from him in a few days, and she briefly considers texting him, but she dismisses the idea. He’s working, and she doesn’t want to distract him. Doesn’t want to risk tipping off the Brotherhood. 

So she takes another sip of her wine instead and turns the television back on, starting an episode of a baking show she’s already watched half a season of. It’s mindless, with the volume down low, almost fading into the background as she sits there and just breathes. 

Slow inhales and exhales, like Lindstrom taught her years ago. Something to calm her, to ground her when she feels like everything is slipping, just a fraction of a degree. When her heart is beating just a little too fast and there’s a pit in her stomach and everything is just a bit too tight, a bit too much.

Olivia manages to get her heart rate under control, and she sinks back into the couch cushions, pinching the bridge of her nose. She’s got to get a grip, Jesus. 

The sound of her phone vibrating next to her thigh shakes her out of it, and she frowns as she squints down at the screen. Elliot’s name lights up the display, and Olivia sits up straight as she takes the call.

“Elliot?” she asks, voice laced with worry. It’s late, and she didn’t expect him to call tonight. 

“Liv, hey.” He sounds a little hesitant, a little unsure, and Olivia’s concern ratchets up a notch.

“You okay?”

Elliot exhales on the other end of the line. “Oh, yeah, ’m fine.”

“Good,” she says, relief flooding her system. “Why—?”

“I’m, uh, I’m downstairs, Liv,” he says, and what?

“Elliot.” It’s nearly ten at night. “What are you…”

“Listen, I know I didn’t call, but, ah, I’d really like to see you, if I can. Just for a little bit? Just to talk.”

Olivia lets out a rough exhale and scrubs a hand over her jaw. She wants to let him up, is the thing. Knows that it’s exactly what she needs tonight, to just talk with someone who knows her, who’ll see her, who’ll understand. But Noah’s asleep and she’s wary, still. Of opening up and truly letting Elliot back in. 

“El—”

“Liv, if you can’t, it’s fine, I’ll—” She hears the roughness of his tone, the poorly concealed desperation, like he needs this too, just as much as she does. The reassurance and connection that they’ve only ever felt with each other. 

She sighs. “I’ll text the doorman. Don’t knock, Noah’s asleep, just let me know when you’re upstairs.”

“I’ll be quiet, promise.”

He shows up at her apartment not ten minutes later, and Olivia does a double-take when she swings open the door. Elliot’s standing there, in a dark blue henley and a leather jacket, with a sheepish little grin on his face. He’s holding up a cardboard coffee carrier with two paper cups from the bodega, and there’s a plastic pastry wrapper peeking out from behind one of them.

It can’t be…

“I was in the neighbourhood,” Elliot says, by way of greeting and explanation, and Olivia can’t help but roll her eyes and let out a little disbelieving laugh. 

“Sure you were,” she says, shaking her head as she takes a step back and lets him inside. 

Elliot shrugs and hands her the coffee holder so he can take off his jacket and shoes, and sure enough, nestled between the two cups is a Little Debbie Honey Bun, wrapped in cellophane.

“It’s decaf,” Elliot tells her as he’s hanging up his coat, like that explains everything. 

Back when they were partners and stuck in the sedan on overnight stakeouts, what feels like a million years ago, they’d alternated trips to the nearest bodega for shitty coffee and some kind of pick me up. Elliot had a phase where all he’d get was salt and vinegar potato chips, and Olivia would buy Honey Buns, but only after midnight.

There was something about it, about the sickly sweet glaze and the too-soft dough, that paired perfectly with a crappy cup of coffee in the wee hours, when she was tucked into the passenger seat of the Crown Vic with her heavy coat wrapped around her like a blanket and the radio on low. 

And now it’s fifteen years later at ten o’clock at night, and they’re standing in her apartment where her son is sleeping down the hall, but Elliot remembered, and Olivia can’t stop the hot press of tears at the corners of her eyes or the way her throat hitches. She raises her free hand to her lips and swallows roughly. 

“You…” she trails off, voice cracked and low. She clears her throat, shakes her head. “I can’t believe you…”

Elliot smiles, soft and small, and shrugs his shoulders. “I remembered all of it.”

“El—” She sucks in a breath, wills her heart rate to calm and slow. She will not cry, not now, not over this. Not over this little gesture that’s making her heart race and warmth spread out from her chest to the tips of her fingers. Olivia lets out a little laugh, disbelieving and fond. “I haven’t had one of these in years.”

He grins at her. “Me neither.”

“Is there something going on with Donnelly?” she asks as they make their way over to the couch. “Bernie, the kids?”

Elliot shakes his head. “Everyone’s fine. Like I said, was in the neighbourhood.”

She scoffs, disbelieving. “Somehow, I’m not buying that.”

He chuckles, and Olivia sets the cup holder down on the coffee table. “Maybe I just wanted to bring you the best buns in the city,” Elliot says, picking up the Honey Bun and shaking his hips a little for effect.

That draws a laugh from Olivia, and she shoves him gently. “Idiot,” she says, but she’s smiling. 

She takes a sip of the coffee as she sits down, her half-empty glass of wine long forgotten, and winces a little at the bitterness. “Still shitty?” Elliot asks, and she nods.

“Some things never change.” She doesn’t intend it, but the words come out heavy and loaded, hanging in the air between them. She hears Elliot suck in a breath and then take a sip of his own coffee, grimacing as the hot liquid passes down his throat. 

“Fuck, Liv, I’m—”

“Don’t,” Olivia says. “It’s okay, really.” He’s apologized for leaving countless times already; she doesn’t need to hear it again. What she does need — what they need — is to come to terms with it so they can move forward. And they’re working on it, step by step. She fiddles with the lid of her coffee cup, staring down at the plastic. “So you were in the neighbourhood, huh?”

Elliot lets out a rough exhale and scrubs a hand over his jaw. “I, ah… Was looking for an excuse to see ya,” he scrapes out, and Olivia turns her head so she can look at him. She didn’t expect him to actually come out and say it, and it renders her speechless. “Not that, ah… I just meant…” He’s stammering, now, tripping over his words, and it’s endearing but she has to take him out of his misery.

Olivia puts a hand on his knee and squeezes once, and Elliot stops in his tracks, eyes locking on her own. “I’m glad,” she says, and watches his expression shift to something hopeful, something settled. “Haven’t seen you in a while.”

“Yeah. Gettin’ close, I think. With Donnelly.”

“Good.”

“And then…” 

“And then you can come home.”

“Yeah.” He smiles at her, then, a soft little thing that makes his eyes crinkle. It’s the same kind of smile she remembers from back in the day — flashed across desks and street corners and centre consoles — and it hits Olivia square in the chest, the nostalgia washing over her like a wave. “Looking forward to it,” he admits. “Feels like it’s time.”

Time to settle back into himself, to stop running. 

Elliot takes a breath and holds it, like he’s weighing out his next words on his tongue, testing them. “I thought it’d be easier,” he says. “Going under as myself. Being able to live at home, see Mama and the kids.” A pause. “Think it’s just reminding me that, ah…”

“What?”

Elliot flexes his hand, shrugs his shoulders. “Donnelly and his buddies, they’re dirty cops. But they…” He stops himself, redirects. “Remember when we used to go out for drinks with Munch and Fin? Casey, Alex…” He trails off, voice wistful. 

“Yeah.” She thinks of countless nights at Mulligan’s, beer bottles sweating on sticky bartops, games of pool and rounds of shots that someone got goaded into buying. Letting loose after a long day and an even longer case, the din of music and voices helping to drown out the thoughts of whatever sick thing they’d borne witness to that particular week. 

“Things change, and a lot of it’s my own damn fault, but seeing them like that, going with them to their regular place…”

There’s a quiet kind of resignation in Elliot’s tone, an ache and a fondness, and the realization stops her dead in her tracks: he’s just as lonely as she is. 

She shouldn’t take comfort in the thought, but it feels like a little bit of a weight lifts off her shoulders. He’s lonely, and she is too, and he’d come to her when he realized it. Sought out her company, just for the sake of it.

“Not a lot of people know about the Honey Buns,” she says, breaking the silence they’ve fallen into. If Elliot’s surprised at her words, he doesn’t show it, and she soldiers on. “Think it might just be you at this point. Not a lot of people know… a lot of things about me. Mostly stuff from before, before I made sergeant and—”

“And became the boss?”

“Yeah.” She lets out a wry little chuckle. “It’s different, you know? A little isolating.”

“I’m so damn proud of you, Olivia,” he tells her, voice rough. “For all of it.”

She smiles, tucks an errant strand of hair behind her ear. “Thank you. It’s, uh, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Paperwork’s hell, but otherwise?”

“It’s pretty fucking amazing, Captain Benson.” His voice goes low and rumble-y and Olivia feels herself melting, just a little bit, right there on her couch. 

“Point is,” she says, “I get it, El. It’s weird; you surround yourself with so many people, but the feeling’s still there.”

He nods, scratches at the back of his head. “I don’t feel like that when I’m with you,” he tells her, voice barely above a whisper. “It’s why I… I wanted to see someone who gets it, ya know?”

Who gets me, she thinks he wants to say, but doesn’t. 

“Can I tell you a secret?” she asks, and Elliot turns his head from where he’d been looking intently at a spot on her floor. “I don’t feel like that when I’m with you either.”

“Yeah?”

“Mmm-hmm. I got home early today, made Noah dinner and helped him with his math homework — don’t laugh.” She levels him with a look; mental math has never been her strong suit and he knows it, but she’s grown, damn it. And so has her capacity to solve fractions. “And then I did laundry, which I still have to fold, but I sat down on the couch instead and realized that this is what my life is now. Dance gear and peanut butter sandwiches and shitty shows on Netflix.”

“And being a cop.”

“And being a cop. Don’t get me wrong, being a mom is… the best thing to ever happen to me. That little boy, he’s my whole world. But I sat down on my couch with a glass of wine and I realized… I could really use a friend.”  

She puts emphasis on the word, on the title they’ve traded back and forth ever since that December afternoon up in Fort Lee. It’s a promise and a re-affirmation all the same, that they’re actively working on rebuilding, on understanding and forgiving. 

Elliot’s shoulders relax for what feels like the first thing all evening, and he sags back into the sofa cushions, letting out a little huff of air. “Hope I’m not a terrible option,” he quips, voice all teasing and bravado, but she can tell, underneath it all, that there’s a nervousness, an insecurity there too. 

Olivia smirks at him. “You’re definitely in my top two.”

“Oh, yeah?” Elliot asks. “Who’s got me beat?”

“Let’s see. He’s about ten years old, got a lot of curls, really loves to dance…”

“I never stood a chance,” he groans, all faux-dramatics, as he places a hand on his heart, but he’s grinning now, and he looks lighter than he has all night. Olivia counts that as a win. “‘M honoured to be in second place.”

“Always.” Their eyes lock, and she takes a second to really look at him, at the furrow of his brow and the laugh lines in the corners of his eyes, the crystal blue of his pupils, flecked with indigo. The slope of his nose and the strong jut of his jaw, and Jesus, she has to get a grip. Immediately. “So that Honey Bun…” she prompts, and stifles a laugh as Elliot does a double-take. 

He snaps out of it and picks it up off the cardboard coffee holder, holding it out to her. “Go for it, it’s yours.” 

She takes the cellophane packet and carefully tears it open, pulling out the pastry and grimacing as she realizes just how sticky it is. “Shoulda grabbed a napkin,” she mutters before breaking off a corner and popping it in her mouth. It’s even sweeter than she remembers, somehow, and she makes a face, causing Elliot to laugh. 

“Not good?” he asks, and she holds out the Honey Bun, letting him break off his own corner. 

He takes his bite and chews, and she catches the moment it sinks in for him too, and then they’re both laughing, trying their hardest to be quiet so they don’t wake Noah. She sets the pastry back down on the table and shakes her head. 

“How the hell did I used to eat these?” she asks, and Elliot shrugs. 

“Beats me.”

“Remind me never to give one to my kid,” she tells him, and he nods solemnly. 

“Pretty sure these things and those cosmic brownies are what had Dickie bouncing off the walls for years.”

“The ones with the rainbow stuff on top?”

“Yup. They sold them in the vending machines by the practice field, and that’s where most of his allowance went each week,” Elliot says, reaching for his now-cold coffee and taking a swig. “Kid would beg for them every time we went to the grocery store.”

“I don’t blame him.”

“Is this the real sign that we’re getting old?” Elliot muses. “Thinking shitty bodega pastries are too sweet and not being able to stomach the coffee?”

Olivia snorts. “I think it’s more like the real sign that you spent four years in Italy, mister imported espresso beans.”

“Touché, Benson.”

She laughs. “Thank you for the Honey Bun, El. And the coffee.”

“Even though they’re terrible?”

“It’s the thought that counts.”

His lips turn up into a smile, and Olivia finds herself blushing at that, cheeks going warm like she’s a teenager all over again. Damn this man. 

He’s looking at her intently, like he’s trying to memorize every little curve and wrinkle on her face, and she fights the urge to avert her eyes and duck her head. His gaze is ardent, and the blush only rises when he looks down at her lips and reaches out with his hand to…

“Hey Liv, you got a little bit of…” he says, brushing his thumb across the corner of her mouth. “There.” Sure enough, there’s a small piece of sugar coating stuck to the pad of his thumb, now, and he shows it to her before lifting his hand to his mouth and licking it off.

Fucking Christ.

“Elliot,” she whispers on an exhale, leaning forward into his space. The motion is almost involuntary, like she’s being pulled in by some magnetic force. She’s been trying to tamp it down all evening, ever since he showed up at her door in that goddamn henley that stretches over his biceps just so, ever since he flashed her that disarming smile.

Ever since he admitted he just wanted to spend time with her tonight, to help him feel like himself again. 

There’s a million reasons why she shouldn’t do what she’s about to, a million reasons to wait until they’re on more solid ground, until his op wraps up, until they talk about a whole host of things. A million reasons to stop and lean back, but she finds herself ignoring every single one of them. 

It’s late and he’s here and she’s done being careful, God damn it.

Olivia bridges the remaining few inches between them and goes still for a second, her lips hovering a hair’s breadth from his. She thinks he wants this too, just as much as she does, but she has to be sure. But Elliot’s eyes slip shut and his hand moves to grab onto her knee and she exhales, letting herself fall forward so she can meet his mouth with her own. 

And oh, oh, oh, nothing has ever felt like this. 

Elliot’s lips are warm and soft and he tastes like coffee and sugar, and he feels like a promise, like everything she’s never let herself think she could ever have. She lingers for just a second, long enough for them to sink into the feeling, and then leans back, separating their lips with a soft pop. 

“Olivia,” he whispers when he opens his eyes again, voice low and utterly wrecked. Her name on his lips sounds like an oath, like a plea and a prayer wrapped into one, and all she can do is surge forward again, slotting their mouths together with more fervour, more heat.

Her arms wind around the back of his neck as she pulls him close, and Elliot cups her cheek with one hand as he settles the other on her waist. It feels like floating, kissing him, like soaring through the clouds, and a little sigh escapes the back of her throat when he deepens the kiss and he licks into her mouth, making her shudder. 

She’s breathless and flushed, grappling for purchase in the fabric of his henley and giving herself over to the moment, and the feeling of kissing Elliot, of being in his arms. They break apart eventually, both needing air, and they rest their foreheads together, breath heavy and ragged. 

“You’re right,” he murmurs after what feels like an eternity, “those things are way too sweet.”

Olivia can’t help the laugh that bubbles up then, making her shoulders shake as she pulls back and gets a good look at Elliot, face flushed and pupils blown, sporting a grin that threatens to split his face in two. 

“You’ll live.”

“Mmm, I think I just might.”

She reaches for his hand, lacing their fingers together and squeezing tight. “I’ll have you know, my friend Elliot,” she starts, smiling up at him. “That I don’t usually do that with my friends.”

He laughs. “I’d hope not, my friend Olivia.”

“Just means you’re special,” she quips.

“Oh am I now?”

“Yeah, El. Yeah you are.”

He feels the mood shift right when she does, because then he’s opening up his arms to her, muttering a soft “C’mere” as she scoots forward and lets him gather her up in his embrace. He moves into the corner of the couch, settling them with her head on his chest and his strong arms wrapped around her. 

Olivia exhales and curls into his side, getting a lungful of soap and pine. Elliot drops a kiss into her hair and she gives his forearm a squeeze, silently reciprocating the gesture. “I’m really glad you called,” she murmurs into the fabric of his henley. 

“I’m really glad you let me in.”

“Stay, for a little while?” she asks, voice barely above a whisper. 

Elliot’s grip tightens around her. 

“Nowhere else I’d rather be.”